Background Cognitive impairment is an established phenomenon in HIV infected individuals and patients that have psychosis. However there is need to establish the severity of the impairment if patients are co morbid with both conditions. Aim To compare cognitive function among HIV positive individuals and HIV negative individuals with psychosis. Methods We recruited patients with psychosis at two national referral hospitals. A standardized demographics questionnaire and psychiatric, physical, and laboratory assessments were conducted. Types of psychosis were diagnosed using the Mini International Neuropsychiatric Inventory-PLUS while cognitive functioning was determined using the Mini mental state examination (MMSE) and a neuropsychological test battery. Follow-up assessments on cognitive function and severity of psychiatric illness were performed at 3 and 6 months. Pairwise comparison and multivariable logistic regression analysis were used to determine the differences between the HIV positive and HIV negative individuals. Results There were 156 HIV positive and 322 HIV negative participants. The mean age was 33 years for the HIV positive group and 29 years for the HIV negative group (p<0.001). The HIV positive individuals were almost three times (OR = 2.62 CI 95% 1.69–4.06) more likely to be cognitively impaired on the MMSE as well as the following cognitive tests:- WHO-UCLA Auditory Verbal Learning Test (OR 1.79, 95% CI 1.09–2.92), Verbal Fluency (OR 3.42, 95% CI 2.24–5.24), Color Trails 1 (OR 2.03, 95% CI 1.29–3.02) and Color Trails 2 (OR 3.50 95% 2.00–6.10) all p = 0.01. There was improvement in cognitive function at follow up; however the impairment remained higher for the HIV positive group (p<0.001). Conclusion Cognitive impairment in psychosis was worsened by HIV infection. Care plans to minimize the effect of this impairment should be structured for the management of individuals with HIV and psychosis.
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